Okay, this year is an extraordinary circumstance. I won’t be watching many nominees at all, since few of them are on video and this won’t be a good year for going to the theatre for me. However, I have finally allowed myself to make a decision I’ve been contemplating for many years. I don’t have to watch nominated movies that don’t interest me, and there’s no shame in it.
Oh, I’ve always given myself certain allowances. Woody Allen movies, for example. Then, a few years ago, I decided I didn’t have to watch all the movies up for technical awards. This was when the second Transformers movie came out. I felt the Academy had fooled me once with that, and they weren’t fooling me a second time. I didn’t have to watch the new one just because it was up for visual effects. I could make that decision, because I was a grown-up who wasn’t a voting member of the Academy. My policy would be different if my viewing had a vote attached to it.
Last year, I had a full afternoon and evening to myself and trekked across town to the theatre over there, because they were still playing Spotlight, which I really wanted to see. And I enjoyed it quite a lot; it’s an excellent film that I still think deserved its Best Picture win. But I was planning to see two movies that day, and I had two choices. I could see Hail, Caesar! Even though it wasn’t up for anything (though it is this year, for Production Design), just because I wanted to. Or I could see The Revenant, which I didn’t much want to but which was nominated in twelve categories and considered a frontrunner in several.
Well. I saw The Revenant. And I still wish I’d seen Hail, Casear! I would’ve enjoyed it a lot more. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t completely hate The Revenant the way I’ve hated some past Oscar nominees I’ve seen (like, um, Transformers, my favourite scene of which is the one filmed six blocks from the house I grew up in, where I can pay attention to the background instead of the foreground), but man, I did not like that movie. In the scene where he goes over the waterfall, I swear to you something like half the people in the theatre groaned. I was one of them.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with expanding your film horizons and everything right with it. It’s good for you, and more people should do it. But if you look at a movie you know a fair amount about and say, “No, this movie isn’t for me. I am going to hate it. It will not be a pleasant experience,” you don’t have to ignore that feeling just because it’s up for Oscars. Even if you care about the Oscars, and I freely acknowledge that a lot of people don’t. But for “nominated for Oscars,” insert whatever other reason you might have for forcing yourself to watch a movie you aren’t interested in. Especially if it’s because you’re trying to impress a potential partner, side note.
Sometimes, the answer to the question, “Do I have to watch this movie?” is just going to be no. No matter what reason you have that you’re thinking it might be yes. I do think there’s merit in a certain amount of watching movies that were made for evil purposes. I have, in fact, seen both Birth of a Nation and Triumph of the Will. I think it can be important to know what those movies are like and how they influenced as many people as they did. Though I do also think there’s merit in knowing you can’t handle it and choosing not to, if your emotional state makes that the better choice.
I just don’t think Hacksaw Ridge fits that category. I don’t think The Revenant did last year. And you know, it’s been a year, and I still think about the choice to see it and wish I’d chosen the other way. I wish I’d just chosen to see a movie I wanted to, even if it would’ve meant not having an informed opinion on Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar.